When I tell people that I left the mild and (almost) always sunny weather of southern California for the pleasure of the seasons on the East Coast (okay, that wasn’t my main reason for moving), they look at me like I have two heads! Why would anyone want seasons? Especially winter? How could I leave that seemingly idyllic life for cold and snow?

But if you haven’t had seasons, you may not appreciate how meaningful they are, you may not recognize their power. After the flood that destroyed the world during the time of Noah, the Almighty recreated the world, this time with seasons – winter, spring, summer and fall (cue Carole King).

Before the flood, before the descent of the world into immorality and violence and, worst of all, indifference, the climate was idyllic – somewhat like that of Los Angeles minus the earthquakes. It was always mild and always the same. And somehow this didn’t work. Since the Almighty added seasons after the flood, we can infer that the seemingly perfect climate was actually not spiritually healthy for us.

We need the change. We need the different experiences and motivations that the four seasons offer us. We need the learning and growth opportunities inherent in each one of them.

It’s not just the tremendous beauty of the leaves turning color that lifts us to awe and appreciation of the Almighty, that sparks a whole new level gratitude; it’s something more. We all recognize there’s a power to the crispness in the air. We feel motivated afresh – to learn, to grow, to deepen our connection to the Almighty. It’s no coincidence that autumn hits around the same time as the High Holidays. Everything in Creation works in sync to help us make the most of the opportunities in front of us.

It’s not that you can’t grow in places with more temperate climates – but it’s harder. It’s more difficult. You can to fight against the lethargy induced by the weather as opposed to using the weather to help foster growth.

I wasn’t here last year for fall; prior to this trip, I haven’t spent this season on the east coast in close to 40 years. So I’m not jaded. I’m not too frightened of upcoming winter to stop to appreciate the fall. I actually enjoyed last winter although I admit there was a novelty element to it.

I believe there are spiritual benefits to experiencing all the seasons and that if we spend our time complaining about them, we will miss their benefits.

Likewise if we are too focused on the longer seasons we may enjoy less (winter and summer), we may miss the excitement and pleasure of the shorter autumn and spring.

I can’t say what will happen after I’ve lived here longer. I can’t promise I will always greet each season with joy and anticipation. I know I won’t always be focused on the growth opportunities. But I’m there now which is what counts. And the truth is that I remember, even as a child and certainly as an adolescent and in college when fall meant back to school, I loved it even then. It’s a thrill I’ve recaptured and I’m only grateful.

We can reconvene when the first (or second or third) snowstorm of the upcoming winter season hits…